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Justice Department Appeals For Harsher Sentences For Oath Keepers In January 6 Insurrection Cases

The Justice Department appealed the sentences given to seven members of the Oath Keepers for their roles in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Prosecutors were not satisfied with the severity of the rulings, made by U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta.

The Oath Keepers is a conservative, anti-government organization that was founded in 2009 by Stewart Rhodes. It recruits past and present military members, first responders and police officers and has embraced much of Donald Trump’s rhetoric over the years. The group perpetuated theories of election fraud and several members have been previously convicted for violent acts against the U.S. government.

Dozens of Oath Keepers joined the mob on January 6 and eventually led one of the first breaches into the Capitol. The group proceeded to split up, with half running toward the Senate and the other half toward the House.

Mehta sentenced Rhodes to 18 years in prison. Though this marked the harshest sentence given to a January 6 defendant, it was still seven years shorter than the 25-year prison term that prosecutors recommended.

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In their filings, the Justice Department also indicated their plan to appeal several other sentences given to Rhodes’ coconspirators. Many other defendants’ sentences fell below the guideline ranges for their conduct, some walking away with less than half of the jail time that they were expected to receive.

Mehta saw Rhodes at the center of conspiracies about the 2020 election. Throughout their hearings, other defendants noted Rhodes as the master manipulator of the entire insurrection and may have influenced Mehta’s decision to give him the most severe sentence.

The government’s appeals will go to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Department of Justice has declined to comment on the matter.

Ava Lombardi

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